Today's post is written by Kronos Summer Intern, Megan Grenier. Megan is an intern on our mid-market marketing team. She'll be returning to Saint Anselm College this fall where she's studying communications.

My experience as an intern at Kronos this summer has been incredible. I have had the opportunity to learn and do so many new things. One of the most interesting aspects of my work experience - and sometimes one of the most challenging - has been learning to communicate appropriately with colleagues who span many generations.

When I first started, I had to learn many new technologies that I was not accustomed to. Next, I had to learn how each person I work with communicates. I work with fellow Kronites who span Generation Z, Millennials, Generation X, and Baby Boomers. It can get a little tricky trying to balance all of the communication styles!

I have had to ask a lot of questions: when should I send an email versus an IM? When is an in-person conversation the best option? Is it okay if I stop by my boss's office unannounced?

With so many questions, I have made a few mistakes: like not hitting “reply all” on an email or starting to work on a task my manager just emailed me about without first telling him that I was available to do so. While I have made my fair share of mistakes, I have learned a lot because of them. Perhaps the biggest two things I have learned is that it is okay to ask questions, and it is better to overcommunicate than to under-communicate.

And so, based on my experience, my two pieces of advice to future interns would be:

  1. Ask as many questions as you need to: It is better to get clarification early on, so you can be led in the right direction, rather than making errors along the way. I have noticed that my managers and coworkers appreciate my consideration, and it makes my life a whole lot easier.
  2. Overcommunicate. My managers always prefer when I give them more information than less. They want to be kept in the loop. So, it is okay if you send them that extra email, they will appreciate it.

Communicating with people in general can be a challenge, but multigenerational communication is a whole new ball game. To learn more about the topic, check out my series The ABC's of XYZ on Kronos's What Works blog, where I dive deeper into these questions, to help bridge the communication divide in a multigenerational workforce.

I recently had the pleasure of talking to Meagan and Larry Johnson, a  daughter-father team who co-authored Generations, Inc. - an instructive manual on how to manage in the inter-generational workplace.   Their firm, the Johnson Training Group, has helped a wide variety of organizations with management innovations including American Express, Harley Davidson, and Nordstrom among many others.

Meagan and Larry have a particular interest in the challenges of managing generational differences at work.   For a variety of reasons, older workers are remaining in the workforce longer than ever before.  Although the financial turmoil of recent years and its impact on retirement plans is often cited as a major driver, many older workers are just as motivated by the desire to stay engaged in meaningful pursuits.  In fact, the reluctance of older workers to retire is driving European countries with mandatory retirement age rules to revisit them.

This all leads to an increasing number of workplaces where up to five generations - from Boomers to Linksters - are coworkers.  The Johnsons' book is full of insights about the critical events that have shaped each generation, how they differ in their approach to work and life, and how those differences can be managed effectively in the workplace.

Click on the link below to listen to my conversation with Meagan and Larry.  And let us know about your experiences in the multigenerational workplace.

Conversation with Meagan and Larry Johnson

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